Celebrities Get Slammed with Credit Card Scam
At the end of August, a lawsuit was filed with US District Court against a Beverly Hills salon owner, Maria Gabriella Perez, stating that she illegally used the credit card information of several of her clients and made fraudulent charges on those cards over the course of a year.
Jennifer Aniston, Anne Hathaway, Liv Tyler and other celebrities were victims of this credit card fraud to the tune of over a quarter of a million dollars. Perez had been doing business with the stars for quite a while, in fact she had signed autographs from them adorning her salon walls. However, her close relationship didn't deter her from stealing a lot of their money.
How could this have happened?
Stars are busy people who employ agents, business managers and accountants to take care of their monthly bills and record keeping. The managers and accountants might not be able to recognize a fraudulent charge during a month or many charges over a year, particularly if they were processed by a salon owner who was thought to be legitimate.
Ways to keep this from happening to you:
- Be careful with your card information. Don't leave your credit card at a sales counter, or personal identification information in an unsecured place.
- Open your statements or review an online account summary each month to verify the charges.
- Review your credit report every 4-6 months. (Go to AnnualCredit Report.com.)
If you are the victim of credit card fraud you must follow these steps:
- Contact the credit card fraud department within 60 days of receiving the monthly credit card statement that showed the fraudulent charges.
- Sign an affidavit describing the disputed charges, (the credit card company will send it to you), and return it to the credit card fraud department so that it may conduct an investigation.
- Once the charges have been verified as fraudulent they will be removed from your card account. Make sure the credit bureaus have made any necessary adjustments to your credit report; pull your report (every 6 months minimally) and dispute any remaining or new errors.
Having a long-term relationship with a merchant doesn't mean you should stop being on top of your financial dealings at their place of business.